The Fiji Times

Samoans defend Aki


SAMOA leaped to the defence of Irish midfielder Bundee Aki, believing he shouldn’t be suspended after being sent off for a dangerous tackle.

New Zealand-born Aki looks set to miss the Rugby World Cup quarter-final, most likely against the All Blacks, after being sent-off by referee Nic Berry following arm to head contact that ended Ulupano Seuteni’s game just 29 minutes into Ireland’s 47-5 victory

“Look, I don’t know if I should really comment on it,” Samoan coach Steve Jackson said as he started what has become an almost daily tackle debate at this World Cup

Again, it’s the mitigating factors again, whether they drop in height and those sort of things. As you all know, it’s the toss of a coin at the moment.

“Nic Berry refereed the game really well. I’ve known Bundee for a long, long time and what a great man he is, he’s got great character and he doesn’t go out there to do harm to anybody. Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and hopefully he gets to continue on in this tournament because he’s a great kid and he deserves it as much as most.

“Again, as we’ve seen if there is any contact with the head, people have been penalised. We lost a couple of players but I hope no further sanction comes to him because I hope he can go further in this tournament and play.

“We’ll do everything we possibly can from a Samoan perspectiv­e to make sure that he gets on that field next week.

“People don’t go out there to make head contact. I think Joe said it in a coaches’ briefing before the tournament. Yes, we ended up with UJ having a HIA but there’s more concussion­s that come from tackles around the knee and people getting kneed in the head. Was their malice in Bundee’s tackle? No, he’s just physical in the collisions being a Samoan boy. There’s always that mitigating factor about how low did someone go.

“Defenders have got to make decision within a split second. If you look at Bundee’s tackle again, UJ came with the ball at pace and I think he only had two or three metres to make a decision as to what sort of tackle he might put in.

“That’s what they’re asking the players to do now, in a spilt second you’ve got to make the right decision about what sort of tackle you’re going to make, which is extremely difficult.

“I wish Bundee all the best.”

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